A penchant for cardigans, spy novels and pop culture connections.
I wanted to create something that brought not only a taste of my home for people like me, but I wanted to come to somewhere where I thought that I could teach what my pizza was to a new community.”
Giacomo Guido is changing things in Chester. An Italian who has travelled to new places to bring not only a product but a way of doing things that make him stand out in a market that, only until a few years ago struggled with “how many hamburgers can we stuff in a crust” appearing on chain menus and indy’s alike.
“The crust is the most important thing in a pizza – he continues – a pizza shouldn’t be about how many toppings you place on the base, it should never be about being a container for something else. The base is the protagonist, everything else is in a way, very secondary.”
For Italians, the idea of a pizza in the UK was always a tumultuous choice, especially to Neapolitans. Pizza is a religion, your chef is not a chef but a “maestro” and with that, Giacomo knows that he brings a sense of responsibility to each and every pizza that he delivers.
In what was a dying city centre market, he has in large part created a buzz and an excitement that sorely lacked from this forgotten corner of Chester. Outdated, under-invested and left to be forgotten, the resurgence down to a handful of local traders providing something new is the playground where Giacomo and his partner, Anita get to regularly kick their ball, metaphorically speaking.
“For me, establishing Stile Napoletano wasn’t about making just pizza, it’s about a way of life. The pizza you find at Stile Napoletano follows all the rules that you find in the streets of Naples, where ingredients and methodology are used to create a uniquely Neapolitan pizza experience.”
I wouldn’t normally use things like TripAdvisor to talk about establishments but in this day of the “amateur-professional critic” it would be hard to avoid the discussion when you consider that out of 74 reviews left, he manages to average 4.7 out of 5. “The one that marked us down wanted to complain about the oven, the fact that we use electric over gas or wood, but they miss the point. Firstly, there is nothing that I can do about using an electric appliance, it’s a regulation that I have abide by which that person may not have known, but secondly, what I’m doing is creating a Neapolitan style of food culture somewhere new. I’m proud of my origins and I want to express my idea of pizza the way that others do.”
“No one says to Franco Pepe, you’re not Neapolitan pizza – he continues – and if they did, his answer is, ‘I want that my pizza is good pizza’, that’s all I care about. The best ingredients, that you can digest your pizza and that the service you receive is the best.”
One visit, one taste and the message is clear. There is a piece of Italy in Chester. It’s not just the product, that would be too simple. Here, in a hall where he competes for attention, Stile Napoletano is about Naples.
“What makes Naples, Naples? In the mire of complexity, there is also simplicity.” For years, Italians have tried to populate the world with their food, some more successful than others, but keeping it simple, three to four ingredients at most has been lost somewhere.
Maybe, in this corner of a former Roman city, there is now a new place where that has been found.